Heather Boon


Heather Boon, BScPhm, PhD is a Professor and former Dean for the Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Toronto.  She is the Chair of IN-CAM (the Canadian Interdisciplinary Network for Complementary and Alternative Medicine Research) and is the Past-President of the International Society of Complementary Medicine Research. She served as the Chair of Health Canada’s Expert Advisory Committee for Natural Health Products from 2006-2009.  Her primary research interests are the safety and efficacy of natural health products as well as complementary/alternative medicine regulation and policy issues. She is the author of a textbook on natural health products and over 150 academic publications.

Current research projects include:

1. Statutory Regulation and Emerging Health Care Professions: What is the impact on practice?

The health care system in Ontario is undergoing a significant change in the area of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM).  Three CAM practices are in the process of either becoming regulated for the first time (Traditional Chinese Medicine/Acupuncture, Homeopathy) or changing their regulatory status (Naturopathy) under the Regulated Health Professions Act. These three cases provide an opportunity to explore and compare:

a) how emerging health care professions  manage the transition through the process of transforming themselves via new statutory self-regulation;

b) how health care professions may be transformed by gaining or changing self-regulatory status;

c) how CAM groups perceive that gaining self-regulatory status or changing the way that self-regulatory status is enshrined in legislation affects the way they are viewed by, and interact with, others in the health care field.

To answer our three research questions, we will conduct a comparative case study that employs mixed methods including quantitative (survey), qualitative (in-depth key informant interview) and document analysis components.   The answers to these questions are central to health care human resource policy and to the successful integration of these three groups into the regulated health care system in Ontario. The current context in Ontario also provides a unique opportunity to provide theoretical insights into how new professions evolve and how changes in regulatory status impact an occupational group.

2. SAFETYNET: an Academic and Professional Partnership Building a Culture of Safety for Spinal Manipulation Therapy

Recent surveys estimate that 50% of Canadians have received spinal manipulation therapy (SMT), most commonly for back and neck pain. Despite its popularity, no safety reporting and learning mechanisms exist to allow regulated professions who provide SMT to monitor and reduce related harms. Although they recognize its importance, regulatory bodies state it is difficult for them to identify and remediate harms due to time and budget constraints. The ultimate goal of this team grant is to develop, pilot, evaluate and support a culture of safety for regulated professionals (chiropractors, physicians, physical therapists, osteopathic doctors and naturopathic practitioners) who provide SMT. Dr. Boon is leading a team of qualitative researchers and students to explore the safety culture of all the regulated practitioner groups currently providing spinal manipulation to patients in the Province of Alberta (Canada).  In addition her team is exploring patients perceptions of the risks associated with spinal manipulation and the process of informed consent.

3. A randomized, double blind, placebo controlled study of homeopathic treatment of children and youth with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is the most prevalent mental disorder in children worldwide, with boys more likely to be affected than girls. Most recent Canadian data suggests that almost 3% of Canadian children are diagnosed with ADHD. While many children find effective treatment through either stimulant medications or behavioral interventions, approximately 30% of diagnosed children are not well-served by these treatment options. Two-thirds of those with ADHD have been reported to be using complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) treatments of some kind.  This randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial with a wait list (usual care) control is designed to investigate if there: a) are any specific effects of homeopathic medicines in the treatment of ADHD; b) are any specific effects the homeopathic consultation alone in the treatment of ADHD; and c) is an overall effect of homeopathic treatment (homeopathic medicines plus consultation) in the treatment of ADHD.

Selected Publications

Note: *senior author; Trainees under my supervision are underlined

  1. Ijaz NH Boon*, S Welsh, A Mead. “Supportive but worried”: perceptions of naturopaths, homeopaths and Chinese medicine practitioners through a regulatory transition in Ontario, Canada” BMC CAM 2015; 15; 312, 13 pages.
  2. Winterbottom MH Boon*, S Mior, M Facey. “Informed Consent for Chiropractic Care: Comparing Patients’ perceptions to the legal perspective,” Manual Therapy. 2015. 20(3):463-468.
  3. Foster BC, K CvijovicH Boon, TW Tam, R Liu, M Murty, D Vu, W Jaeger, RT Tsuyuki, J Barnes, S Vohra. “Melatonin interaction resulting in severe sedation” J Pharm Pharm Sci 2015; 18(2):124-131.
  4. Brule D, L Sule, B Landau-Halpern, V Nastase, U Jain, S Vohra, H Boon*. “An Open Label Pilot Study of Homeopathic Treatment of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder in Children and Youth” Forschende Komplementärmedizin. 2014:21
  5. White A, H Boon, T Alraek, G Lewith, J-P Liu, A-J Norheim, A Steinsbekk, H Yamashita, V Fonnebo. “Reducing the risk of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM): Challenges and Priorities” European Journal of Integrative Medicine 2014;6(4):404-408.
  6. Vohra, S, GN Kawchuck, H Boon, T Caulfield, KA Pohlman, M O’Beirne. “SafetyNET: An interdisciplinary research program to support a safety culture for spinal manipulation therapy” European Journal of Integrative Medicine 2014;6(4):473-477.
  7. Zorzela L, H Boon, S Mior, J Yager, A Gross, S Vohra. “Serious adverse events associated with pediatric complementary and alternative medicine” European Journal of Integrative Medicine. 2014;6(4):467-472.
  8. C Necyk, RT Tsuyuki, H Boon, BC Foster, D leGatt, G Cembrowski, M Murty, J Barnes, TL Charrois, JT Arnason, MA Ware, RJ Rosychuk , S Vohra. “Pharmacy study of natural health product adverse reactions (SONAR): a cross-sectional study using active surveillance in community pharmacies to detect adverse events associated with natural products and assess causality” BMJ Open. 2014; 4e003431
  9. Pojskic N, L MacKeigan, H Boon, Z Austin. “Initial perceptions of key stakeholders in Ontario regarding independent prescriptive authority for pharmacists” Research in Social and Administrative Pharmacy 2014; 10: 341-354.
  10. Ballantyne P, M Yang, H Boon. “Interpretation in cross-language research: tongues-tied in the health care interview?” Journal of Cross Cultural Gerontology2013;28:391-405.
  11. C Necyk, J Barnes, RT Tsuyuki, H Boon, S Vohra. “How well do pharmacists know their patients? A case report highlighting product disclosure” Canadian Pharmacists Journal (CPJ) 2013;146(4):202-209.
  12. Hirschkorn KR WaljiBoon, H*. “The role of natural health products (NHPs) in dietetic practice: results from a survey of Canadian dieticians” BMC CAM 2013; 13:156
  13. Boon H*, N Kachan, A Boecker. “Use of natural health products: How does being “natural” impact choice?” Medical Decision Making. 2013; 33(2):282-297.
  14. Tsui, TH Boon*, A Boecker, N Kachan, M Krahn. “Understanding the role of scientific evidence in consumer evaluation of natural health products for osteoarthritis: An application of the means end chain approach.” BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 2012; 12:198
  15. K Toupin, D Moher, J Stinson, A Byrne, M White, H Boon, C M Duffy, T Rader, S Vohra, P Tugwell. “Measurement properties of questionnaires assessing complementary and alternative medicine use in pediatrics: A systematic review”. PLoS ONE 2012;7(6):e39611.
  16. Walji RH Boon*, J Barnes, Z Austin, R. Gray. “Reporting of natural health product-related adverse reactions: is it the pharmacist’s responsibility? International Journal of Pharmacy Practice. 2011; 19(6):383-391.
  17. Cvijovic KH Boon*, W Jaeger, S Vohra for the SONAR group. “Hepatic necrosis and polypharmacy: an example when natural may not mean safe” CMAJ. 2011; 184(14):E1085-1089.
  18. Gaboury I, Lapierre LM, Boon H, Moher D. “Interprofessional collaboration within integrative healthcare clinics through the lens of the relationship-centered care model” Journal of Interprofessional Care. 2011;25(2):124-130
  19. Szczurko O, N Shear, A Taddio H Boon*. “Ginkgo biloba for the treatment of Vitiligo vulgaris: an open label pilot clinical trial.” BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine.2011, 11:21.
  20. Mior S, Barnsley J, Boon H, Ashbury FD, Haig R. “Designing a model for collaborative musculoskeletal care delivery involving chiropractors and physicians in community-based primary care” Journal of Interprofessional Care. 2010; 24(6):678-689.
  21. Cvijovic KH Boon*, W Jaeger, S Vohra. “Pharmacists’ participation in research: Can they find the time?” International Journal of Pharmacy Practice  2010; 18: 377-383.
  22. Gaboury I,  H Boon*, M Verhoef, M Bujold, L Lapierre, D Moher. “Practitioners’ validation of framework of team-oriented practice models in integrative health care: A mixed methods study” BMC Health Services Research. 2010; 10:289.
  23. Byrne ABoon H*, Austin Z, Jurgens T, Raman-Wilms L. “Natural health products (NHPs) and Canadian Pharmacy Students: Core Competencies“ American Journal of Pharmacy Education. 2010; 74(3) article 45.
  24. Olatunde SH Boon*, K Hirschkorn, S Welsh, J Bajcar. “Roles and responsibilities of pharmacists with respect to natural health products: Key informant interviews” Research in Social and Administrative Pharmacy. 2010: 6(1):63-69.
  25. Walji RBoon H*, Barnes J, Austin Z, Welsh S. “Consumers of natural health products: Natural-born pharmacovigilantes?” BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 2010; 10:8.
  26. Gaboury I, Bujold M, Boon H*, Moher D*. “Interprofessional collaboration within Canadian integrative healthcare clinics: key components” Social Science & Medicine2009: 69 (5):707-715.

Publications at PubMed for Heather Boon

Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy
University of Toronto
144 College Street
Toronto, Ontario, M5S 3M2
Tel: 416-946-5859
Fax: 416-978-1833
Email: heather.boon@utoronto.ca